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The master plan for the American University of Beirut was developed to shape and guide the development of the universityâs century-old campus over the next 20 years. Situated on a hill overlooking the Mediterranean, the existing campus is composed of more than 80 academic, residential and administrative buildings, primarily of neo-Moorish and modern design that represent different eras of architectural development. The master plan provides architectural, landscape and urban design guidelines to serve the existing and future needs of the university. It articulates an integrative landscape plan that demonstrates a subtle use of topographical conditions to enhance the existing landscaping, in particular that of the green and wooded middle campus at the heart of the university with its lush environment and dramatic views towards the sea. The plan addresses improvements to the campus infrastructure, proposing new facilities such as classroom buildings and parking structures. It covers the renovation of existing buildings and preservation of historic structures; the expansion of the medical campus and its integration with the main campus; and the building of a new sports centre and business school. Pedestrians have replaced cars almost everywhere, with roads giving way to promenades, plazas and new green spaces designed to link the upper, middle and lower campuses. The generation of the master plan was a truly participatory process, successfully engaging the large number of beneficiaries including the entire university community. (Find out more)
The âBridge Schoolâ bridges the two parts of the small village of Xiashi that lie on either side of a small creek that runs through the village. The structure is created by two steel trusses that span the creek with the space between them housing the functions of the school. Suspended from the structure and running below it is a pedestrian bridge for the people of the village to use. Small and modern in design, with no reference to the areaâs traditional building style, the school has nonetheless become the physical and spiritual centre of what was a declining village. Placed in such a way that it addresses its surroundings, the Bridge School connects the village together, providing a central, social space. The broader social aspect of the project was part of the brief, which was developed with the school principal and head of the village to answer community needs rather than simply those of a primary school. A public library separates the two classrooms and the ends of each classroom, or the two ends of the school can be opened up, creating open stages at either end of the building that are integrated with the public spaces outside. The stage at the northern end can be used for performances, with the toulou as a backdrop. The result is a project that has successfully invigorated the entire community, encapsulating social sustainability through architectural intervention. (Find out more)
Set in one of the poorest suburbs of Ouagadougou, the CBF Womenâs Centre provides health and educational services and builds awareness about womenâs rights. The building consists mainly of two separate but closely-related blocks. A number of passive cooling measures reduce the need for air conditioning and provide a prototype that can be replicated across the region: the two buildings are raised on a platform to encourage natural ventilation and protect the interiors from dust, mud and humidity; a lightweight PVC canopy on steel trees shades the whole; and exterior openings are fitted with glass louvres. Constructed from interlocking, compressed, soil-cement bricks made on-site, the centre has its own well and photovoltaic cells. Not only does the Centre provide health care, training and education, it also provides a gathering place for the community, somewhere to share ideas and hold celebrations. Despite its unconventional appearance, the Centre has been able to generate a strong sense of belonging. (Find out more)
This mosque on the suburban periphery of the port of Chittagong in Bangladesh seeks to fulfil the traditional role of a mosque as both a place of spirituality and as a gathering place for the community. The architect began by identifying the essential elements of a mosque to create a new form and articulation for a typology that goes back for a millennium and a half. The result is this monolithic and spare mosque, pared down to two identical cuboid structures. The first is the front court, its heavy masonry walls punctuated with low, wide openings onto the surrounding landscape, with a large eyelike opening above. In the second volume, the naturally lit mihrab wall is balanced by an iconic, cut dome. While the apertures give a sense of openness and draw in light and ventilation by day, by night they allow light to shine out of the mosque like a beacon. With its stark, geometric clarity, the Chandgaon mosque stands apart from many such structures that have reduced architectural features associated with the usual mosque type to the level of kitsch. It makes a definitive architectural statement in a different direction, pointing to the contemporary, to a desire to live in spaces that reflect the universal values of the present day. (Find out more)
The town of Gjirokastra in southern Albania is a well-preserved example of an Ottoman Balkan town, distinguished by its residential architecture but also notable for what is absent: unusually for an Ottoman town, it has only one minaretâthe rest having been destroyed during the communist era. Declared a âmuseum cityâ in 1960, Gjirokastraâs architectural heritage was preserved and maintained well by its Institute of Monuments for several decades. With the collapse of the regime and the economy in 1992, however, the townâs institutional structure disintegrated and skilled workers and craftsmen emigrated to Greece and elsewhere.
The Gjirokastra Conservation and Development Organisation has, for the better part of the last decade, attempted to reverse the decline of Gjirokastraâs built heritage through a grassroots programme that emphasises the development potential of conservation: Preservation projects are designed with a focus on adaptive reuse and sustainability, integrating training, business development and community outreach. Its many projects to date include the restoration and reuse of the castle of Gjirokastra; the rehabilitation of the bazaar; the restoration of cobblestone streets and creation of pedestrian walkways in the old town; and the preservation of several significant buildings. (Find out more)
This project counters the two-dimensional facade and level open-plan floors of the typical Tehran mid-rise with a building that seeks a three-dimensional approach. The facadeâa wooden gridâis punctured with a variety of openings that extend the buildingâs volume beyond the main envelope and allow unpredictable configurations dictated by the preferences of the inhabitants. At the same time, each apartment is split level, allowing the creation of a roof garden that is directly accessible from the top-floor apartment. In addition to being responsive to its users, the building adds a sense of excitement to the public streetscape that it overlooks. The architects see it as a model and as a design strategy that can be adapted to a number of similar sites, to enable the creation of well-designed living spaces that can be modified according to clientsâ needs, without significant cost premiums and with the use of local materials and technologies. (Find out more)
The Ipekyol factory, a custom-designed facility for a manufacturer of high-quality textiles, represents a successful collaboration between a client and an architect in developing a spatial strategy that integrates production goals with the well-being of employees. Key design objectives focused on a single U-shaped volume that makes full use of the site as well as the use of local materials, reduced energy use, and enhanced thermal performance. The architect responded with a single, large structure where administration and production spaces were integrated under one roof, breaking down hierarchies between front- and backof-house functions. The form of the building conveys its function, its U-shape responding to the demands of the production line, from inception to the packaging and dispatch of the garments. The glazed southern facade, five internal courtyards, as well as gardens and light wells give each user access to natural light and views of nature, and the spaces also provide recreational areas for the workers. (Find out more)
The tenth-century palace city of Madinat al-Zahra is widely considered to be one of the most significant early Islamic archaeological sites in the world, and the most extensive in Western Europe. Excavations at the site are still ongoing. The museum was conceived as a place to interpret the site and display the archaeological findings, as well as to serve as a training and research centre and the headquarters of the archaeological team. A refined and subtle design by the architectural firm Nieto Sobejano, the museum complex blends seamlessly into the site and the surrounding farmland - a series of rectangles composed of walls, patios and plantings which, taken together, seem more like a landscape than a building. The architects took the ground plans of three excavated buildings as a starting point, as though the museum had been waiting to be revealed from the ground. Visitors are guided through a sequence of covered spaces and voids. The main public functions are arranged in a cloister around a broad patio, a form found at the archaeological site and in the old town of Cordoba. Two more courtyards define the research centre and the external exhibition area respectively. A restricted pallet of materials and simple details, with walls of poured concrete, interior walls clad in iroko wood, and limestone paving for the courtyards, are intended to evoke the rough retaining walls and temporary structures of an archaeological site. (Find out more)
The main objectives of this centre, located in a protected forest and nature reserve in Chittagong District in the south of Bangladesh, are nature education and interpretation tours, in an effort to create awareness and promote biodiversity, conservation and eco-tourism. Nishorgo means environment in Bengali, and the central concept driving the project is to cherish the sanctity of nature. The building itself is sensitively placed within the landscape: the reinforced concrete platforms of the âpavilion shelterâ float above the ground on structural walls; the concrete slabs are pierced by tree trunks where necessary, reflecting the projectâs aim to create as little impact on the environment as possible. The visitor walks up the layers of platforms to a raised level to observe the surroundings. An exhibition area is enveloped in a compositional arrangement of openings framed by wooden lattices, and there is a space for viewing films with walls of exposed, burnt clay brick. (Find out more)
On May 27, 2006, an earthquake hit Indonesia in the region of Yogyakarta in the southern portion of central Java. The village of Ngibikan, located less than 10 kilometres from the quakeâs epicenter was destroyed. More than 5,700 people died and more than 140,000 homes in the immediate region were severely damaged. With financial assistance from a local newspaper, and design input from local architect Eko Prawoto, the villagers of Ngibikan, led by community leader Maryono, reconstructed 65 homes in less than 90 days. The new homes are based on a vernacular building type, the limas an house with innovative modifications to keep the wooden structures lightweight but at the same time resistant to future earthquakes. The community rebuilt the physical fabric of their environment which in turn helped to rebuild the âgotong royongâ or togetherness of this agrarian village. As such, the Ngibikan village reconstruction provides an alternative model for a post-disaster reconstruction project that demonstrates the enormous positive impact of a grassroots rebuilding effort. (Find out more)
This two-storey timber house, built as a weekend retreat, lies in the shade of an extensive coconut grove on coastal agricultural land facing the sea, near the fishing village of Nandgaon, south of Mumbai. The functions of the house are placed within two oblong masses slightly offset from one another, whose facades are predominantly characterised by louvers made from the trunks of the local Palmyra palm. The structure is made of ain wood; local basalt was used to make boundary walls, plinths and paving. Plaster finishes were pigmented with sand from the site. The development of the design and detail, which resulted from collaboration between the architect and the craftsmen, took on tested techniques, both local and foreign, and raised them to a finer construction resolution. The house is well-adapted to its environment: the louvers on the elevations enable passive cooling, as does the extensive shade provided by the coconut trees above; water for the house is harvested from three on-site wells, filtered and stored at the top of a water tower and fed by gravity to the house. The result of these measures is a quietly compelling project that is fully integrated into its landscape. (Find out more)
Since 859 AD, when construction commenced, and especially since the twelfth-century expansions under the Almoravid dynasty, the Al-Qaraouiyine mosque has been a vital presence at the heart of the medina of Fez, not only as a place of worship but as one of the worldâs oldest universities. The aim of the rehabilitation project was not only to preserve the historic fabric of the mosque but also to revive its cultural and social role in the life of the citizens of Fez and to enhance its use as a place of worship and a place of learning. The rehabilitation team, relying entirely on Moroccan experts and professionals, adopted a holistic and multi-disciplinary approach in the project. Their strategy involved the critical examination of the haphazard interventions of the past 60 years and rigorous documentation work. New technologies were employed to reverse the process of slow degradation that was undermining the structureâs physical integrity, and previous inappropriate interventions were removed where feasible. The work was completed in such a way as to not interfere with the daily use of the mosque by worshippers. Al-Qaraouiyineâs academic role has also been broadened after the completion of the rehabilitation project, and it has once again started accepting female students for courses of study. (Find out more)
Located in the small town of Lunas, in Kedah district near Penang, the Rubber Smokehouse stands as an example of Malaysiaâs industrial heritage and the rubber industry that was of vital importance to Malaysiaâs economy for much of the twentieth century. The preservation project brought together the different communities living in the area and created an awareness of their shared history. It also engaged Malaysian schoolchildren, who were charged with mapping and documenting a cultural history of their home. Sponsored by a local telecommunications company, the project was led by the architect Laurence Loh, whose family is originally from Lunas. The Rubber Smokehouse has been transformed from an abandoned and forgotten building into an important part of the townâs landscape and a focus for the rural community. It has combined the physical conservation of the historic fabric with youth engagement, intercultural tolerance and civic pride, a unique approach that shows how architectural interventions can play a role in advancing social cohesion in multicultural societies. (Find out more)
The nineteenth and early twentieth-century architectural heritage of North African cities embodies an important cultural exchange between the southern and northern Mediterranean. This heritage commonly lies adjacent to the old medinas, and has often been neglected in the drive to revitalise the historic centres of cities in this region. The Ville Nouvelle of Tunis, which was built when Tunisia was a French Protectorate, reflected a move from the urban patterns of the old medina to a grid plan that changed the character of the city. The urban revitalisation plan, devised and spearheaded by the Association de Sauvegarde de la MĂŠdina de Tunis (ASM), has restructured the public spaces of the area around Avenue Bourguiba and Avenue de France and made them chiefly pedestrian. It has also listed and restored key monuments, such as the ThĂŠĂ˘tre municipal de Tunis, MarchĂŠ central, Ancien Tribunal administratif and CinĂŠma Palace, which are once again in use. The ASM continues to actively guide institutions and individuals in the public and private sectors who wish to undertake preservation projects, in order to ensure overall quality and meet the objectives of the many stakeholders. (Find out more)
The origins of the Souk Waqif date from the time when Doha was a village and its inhabitants gathered on the banks of the wadi to buy and sell goods. The revitalisation project, a unique architectural revival of one of the most important heritage sites in Doha, was based on a thorough study of the history of the market and its buildings, and aimed to reverse the dilapidation of the historic structures and remove inappropriate alterations and additions. The architect attempted to rejuvenate the memory of the place: modern buildings were demolished; metal sheeting on roofs was replaced with traditionally built roofs of dangeal wood and bamboo with a binding layer of clay and straw, and traditional strategies to insulate the buildings against extreme heat were re-introduced. Some new features were also introduced, such as a sophisticated lighting system that illuminates the marketâs streets. In complete contrast to the heritage theme parks that are becoming common in the region, Souk Waqif is both a traditional open-air public space that is used by shoppers, tourists, merchants and residents alike, and a working market. (Find out more)
Environmentalists and designers John and Cynthia Hardy wanted to motivate communities to live sustainably. Part of that effort was to show people how to build with sustainable materials, namely bamboo. They established the Green School, and its affiliates: the Meranggi Foundation, which develops plantations of bamboo plants through presenting bamboo seedlings to local rice farmers; and PT Bambu, a for-profit design and construction company that promotes the use of bamboo as a primary building material, in an effort to avoid the further depletion of rainforests. The Green School, a giant laboratory built by PT Bambu, is located on a sustainable campus straddling both sides of the Ayung River in Sibang Kaja, Bali, within a lush jungle with native plants and trees growing alongside sustainable organic gardens. The campus is powered by a number of alternative energy sources, including a bamboo sawdust hot water and cooking system, a hydro-powered vortex generator and solar panels. Campus buildings include classrooms, gym, assembly spaces, faculty housing, offices, cafes and bathrooms. A range of architecturally significant spaces from large multi-storey communal gathering places to much smaller classrooms are a feature of the campus. Local bamboo, grown using sustainable methods, is used in innovative and experimental ways that demonstrate its architectural possibilities. The result is a holistic green community with a strong educational mandate that seeks to inspire students to be more curious, more engaged and more passionate about the environment and the planet. (Find out more)
This pioneering prototype for affordable housing in China is inspired by the traditional tulou, the multi-family, fortress-like earth house found in the rural areas of Fujian province. The urban Tolou consists of an outer circular block with a rectangular box within that is connected to the outer ring by bridges and a courtyard. Both the circular and rectangular blocks contain small apartment units; the spaces in between are for circulation and community use. The lower floors contain shops and other community facilities. Rents are low and apartments are not available to car owners, adding to the homogeneity of the community, many of whom are migrant workers. The self-contained circular form stands in sharp contrast to the typical high-rise blocks around it. The entire structure is wrapped in a concrete screen with wooden inserts that shade the balconies, giving each unit a secondary living space. The position of the apartments also allows for good light and ventilation. Resulting from extensive research into the original earth houses as well as the social dynamics of current urbanisation trends in China, the Tulou Collective Housing is a unique experiment in low-income housing and the transformation of ancient heritage to suit contemporary living environments. (Find out more)
Located in the middle of the Najd Plateau of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Wadi Hanifa (or Hanifa valley) is the longest and most important valley near Riyadh, a natural water drainage course for an area of over 4,000 square kilometres and a unique geographical feature in this dry region. Until recently, many segments of the valley had been exploited in an aggressive and environmentally destructive manner. In an effort to redress the balance between the resources of the wadi and the people living around it, the Arriyadh Development Authority has implemented a comprehensive development strategy, a programme of works that aims to restore and develop Wadi Hanifa as an environmental, recreational and tourism resource. Project works so far have included the introduction of landscaping, conservation of the natural environment, development of recreational areas for the people of Riyadh, enhancement of agricultural land in the valley, and the creation of an environmentally sensitive wastewater treatment facility that provides additional water resources for the rural and urban inhabitants of the region. (Find out more)
The Centre is a three-building complex at the heart of the Yodakandyia housing reconstruction scheme, in a new village outside the town of Tissamaharama in south-eastern Sri Lanka that was developed for 218 families affected by the 2004 tsunami. In addition to the community centre, there is a pre-school, library, medical centre, and a cricket pitch and volleyball court. The Centre was designed by Architecture for Humanity, a volunteer, non-profit design and construction services organisation, in close collaboration with the community and with technical assistance from UN-Habitat. The programme engaged the beneficiaries directly: the residents not only acted as client, they also prepared a design brief, implemented the construction and continue to operate the facilities. The available budget and the hot climate drove low-cost construction techniques, with the extensive use of local materials and passive cooling measures. Bricks were hand-made using natural clay earth, fired in open-air furnaces of burning left-over rice husks, and a number of redundant buildings on site were recycled into rubble for the foundations. To address the problem of a lack of access to drinking waterâone of the main challenges facing the communityâthe project also includes a rainwater harvesting system with two large underground tanks that store sufficient rainwater to provide for basic needs throughout the dry season. (Find out more)
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